At home with Joan & Rick
WORDS BY IMO
Generally small businesses have their family to thank, it’s the closest people to you who help nurture and support your dreams when they are just an idea. We have been so lucky to have Joan and Rick (Al’s mum and dad) support us from day one. The first bed we made for someone other than ourselves was a Christmas gift for them and that particular design “The Square Bed & it’s variations” have gone on to become our most ordered pieces.
Rick is a well-regarded Theatre Set Designer and is always coming up with new ideas for their house, he designed their dining room table and side-board which he had his father Peter build around 12 years ago. Now that Al’s grandfather is into his 90’s, Al has stepped into the ‘making’ role this has lead to many beautiful collaborations between father and son. Rick and Joan’s house is a gallery of family ideas, linking the generations through art and design.
Most Sundays are spent with family around the dining table sharing a beautiful well planned, extraordinary, home-cooked meal by Joan. This is where ideas, stories and beliefs are shared - a place to learn, love, inspire and be inspired. Joan has collected recipes over her lifetime and towards the end of last year she wrote a cookbook. Over a series of days Joan came down to our house in Freshwater Creek where we sat down together and designed the book. “The Table” was gifted to friends and family for Christmas, who all beamed with excitement when they found recipes and stories dedicated to them inside.
Al and I dream to one day build our own purpose-built home, in the meantime we’ll continue to share other people’s.
WITH Joan & Rick, (AKA Al’s mum & dad)
Williamstown . VIC
Can you describe the design inspiration behind building your dream home?
We wanted to live in an environment where the sea was close and the neighbourhood was quiet and calming. When we found this block we knew it was right. Steve Bracks had committed to making the land across the road and around the corner to being a park on the eve of his election as Premier in 1999. We bless him everyday as this location is beautiful. We selected an architect after interviewing four. We chose Breathe Architecture who in 2010 were an up and coming 'sustainable' company. They are now well-known for The Commons and The Nightingale Project. They expressed a lot of the values we were aiming to achieve in a new build. We wanted a house that suited our lifestyle, allowed us to work and pursue our passions and incorporated sustainable features.
We wanted a house that suited our lifestyle, allowed us to work and pursue our passions and incorporated sustainable features.
It also needed to work for our future and of course the budget. The materials needed to be honest and authentic and the spaces welcoming, flexible and comfortable. We wanted to wake up each day and say- I love living here. It is still a joy living here after 7 years. Thanks to Bonnie, Jeremy and Glenn.
You made environmentally conscious choices when designing & building your home, can you describe them and why this was important to you?
Our choices included catching water in a tank- using this for the garden, toilets and washing machine and one tap in the house; should the water be off we still have access to tank water. We use LED light fittings and have gas heating and cooking facilities.
We have huge amounts of highly rated insulation in the walls, floors and ceilings and all windows are double glazed. The house is very well sealed. This works really well with our hydronic heating under the concrete floor and in panels upstairs. The house is always cozy and pleasant to be in in the winter. The windows are designed to open so they capture the southerly sea breezes which instantly cool the house in summer when the afternoon sea breeze comes in. The rear of the house faces north, which means the floor in the downstairs captures passive solar warmth and the heating does not need to run during a sunny day in winter. We are able to maintain the temperature easily once it heats up early in the morning. We have photovoltaic cells on the northern roof of the studio and a solar hot water service.
The house is made of recycled materials and long life rated timbers such as Ironbark on the upper storey. All these features are important because they use fewer resources to produce or are recycled and in the long run will cost less through less maintenance and no need for painting or replacement. The ironbark has a 100 year rating needing no maintenance. The running costs of the house are also lower due to the above features which was a consideration for us as get older. We are currently considering putting in batteries and more panels to become close to self sufficient in power generation especially as the government is offering 50% rebate.
We’d love a tour of your home, can you describe what you look for when styling your home?
We have an eclectic taste in design, art and architecture. The materials are important to us. They need to be beautiful, functional and practical. We love the combination of recycled timber, mild steel, glass, concrete and form ply. The palette is fairly neutral which allows us to introduce colours and textures we love. We have a range of art works, quite a few indigenous artists are represented and friends works. We also have two portraits of our beloved Jack Russell Fidel. We love mid century comfortable and beautifully designed furniture and classic black and brown leather for chairs and couches. We have a large collection of decorative pieces which we display with our books in the many shelves in the house. Books bring warmth and a very lived in feel to a room. We also enjoy unusual light fittings and have collected lamps from many places. I spend lots of time visiting op shops and have found many bargains including glassware, napery, furniture, cookbooks and clothes. I have a large collection of cook books with a purpose built shelf under the kitchen bench to house them. The studio out the back is both practical and spacious. Rick has his models and drawing board there and many designs by colleagues adorn the walls.
We dream of building a home with a big workshop and studio, you’ve done this with your home. Joan you’re an incredible cook with your cookbook and Rick, you’ve a well-regarded theatre set designer. Your home has a purpose-built entertainers kitchen and artists’ studio - do you feel having these ‘special places to create’ have influenced your work?
Being in our house and studio is very satisfying. Richard loves his studio and spends a lot of time there. I spend a large amount of time cooking and sharing meals with friends in the central kitchen/living areas. Rick also loves to cook and enjoys being in the kitchen. The spaciousness of the house and studio mean we feel very comfortable. Richard is surrounded by his models and equipment in the studio and has created a large number of shows in there since moving in. It is his first bespoke design studio and he loves it. He recently hosted a class of the Design Masters' students in there. They loved it too. The architects were able to create spaces which are both practical and beautiful to work in and add to our creative endeavours on a daily basis.
The architects were able to create spaces which are both practical and beautiful to work in and add to our creative endeavours on a daily basis.
What projects are you both currently working on?
Richard is working at the VCA/Melbourne Uni on the Design degree intensive courses and is designing 'Black Cockatoo' for the next Sydney Festival- a play about our first indigenous cricket team which toured to the UK in 1868. I am at home and working on a new cookbook. I am also looking for a new direction in my career as well as enjoying travelling this year.
You’ve encouraged us from the very start, thank you. Why do you think it’s important to support local artists and makers?
Local Artists and makers are the key to a healthy society, where the arts enrich our lives in so many ways on a daily basis. Building community through supporting locals ensures we all gain from the arts. Pursuing your passions in life, being in your 'element' when you are working is also important.
As successful creatives, what advice do you give others wishing to pursue creative careers?
Pursue what makes you satisfied, what you enjoy doing and develop your skills and talents. Life is too short to work at something you don't enjoy. 'Flow' is the experience of being fully and creatively engaged in something you love. If you have experienced this in your work or creative endeavours this is what you should spend time doing. follow you heart and build the necessary skills to support the pursuit of your dreams.
“Life is too short to work at something you don't enjoy. 'Flow' is the experience of being fully and creatively engaged in something you love.”
Lastly, what does the future look like for you?
Rick is going to continue to combine an academic and freelance career for a few more years and has dreams for a few special projects. Joan is still looking for a career alternative and really enjoying the space to create meals at home and support Rick in his very busy year while working on a new cookbook.
This is my Mediterranean Silverbeet. It is a tasty and healthy dish. It consists of a large bunch of silver beet cut and cooked with a small onion in olive oil. When it has reduced and softened let it cool. Pile it onto a plate and cover with Greek yoghurt. Sprinkle with paprika and split Kalamata olives and chopped mint to finish. Sometimes I add peas and beans if I have them. This goes well with meat dishes or on its own. I often use home grown silverbeet for this dish which is very satisfying.
We’ve started this journal in hope that through us sharing stories like Joan & Rick’s it encourages others to -
To follow your passion project.
Support local artists and makers.
OUR HOPE IS THAT THROUGH US SHOWCASING SMALL, LOCAL AND ETHICAL ARTISTS/ MAKERS/ BUSINESSES IT ENCOURAGES OTHERS TO SUPPORT LOCALLY, HANDMADE.